The City of Louisville has often been recognized for its livability. Most recently, Money Magazine named Louisville #1 in 2009, and then in an unprecedented action again named Louisville #1 in its 2011 “Best Place to Live” issue. Many things contribute to this exemplary quality of life and positive economic condition including 1,700 acres of open space, dozens of great eateries, a thriving arts scene, great schools, wonderful neighborhoods and a diverse mix of employment opportunities. As the Money article noted, “Add in dry, clear weather, little crime, good health care, low taxes, and Louisville is pretty tough to beat.”
City of Louisville, Colorado, incorporated in 1882, lies in Boulder County roughly six miles east of the City of Boulder and 25 miles northwest of Denver (City Map). The City Council consists of six Council members and the Mayor. At this time, the City owns, either alone or in conjunction with other governmental entities, approximately 1700 acres of designated open space.
The Miners Memorial statue in front of City Hall is a symbol of the history of the people who built Louisville – the coal miners. In August 1877, the Welch Mine opened in Louisville, the first of many coal mines to come. Louis Nawatny, a local landowner, platted his land and named it for himself. The Town of Louisville was incorporated on June 16, 1882.
Coal miners soon moved to the new town to work in the emerging coal industry. From the beginning, Louisville differed from most coal camp towns as it was not owned and controlled by a single mining company. Miners lived in the town and walked to work in the nearby mines. They were involved in a democratic community life that was not dominated by mine owners or companies.
Louisville is located in an area known as the Northern Coalfield, an extensive coalfield in Boulder and Weld counties. Wages in the early days of coal mining were somewhat higher in the Louisville mines and the mines were relatively safe. The economy, however, was generally depressed. Family gardens and odd jobs were the way of life as mining was seasonal and strikes often interrupted production.
From 1890 to 1928, the Acme Mine operated directly beneath the original town of Louisville. Worked on two levels, the Acme produced nearly two million tons of coal and was one of 171 coal mines in Boulder County. In all, thirty mines were located in and around Louisville. During the peak years of 1907 and 1909, there were twelve mines in operation. The use of coal declined following World War II, and the last mines near Louisville closed in 1955.
Many Europeans migrated to Louisville to work in the mines as jobs were plentiful. Some learned the skills to become miners, while others brought skills they had used in Europe. Later, miners were recruited as strike breakers during the several union disagreements with coal companies. Although miners worked together, they lived with their own relatives and fellow countrymen in ethnically separated neighborhoods.
These ethnic neighborhoods are gone now, as are the remnants of the coal mines. Flowers grow in suburban yards with never a hint of the passageways underground or the history they represent.
-Information from The Louisville Story, by Carolyn Conarroe
Come Acquaint Yourself with the History of Louisville!
Visit the Louisville Historical Museum, located at 1001 Main Street. You are invited to visit the museum and experience the history of Louisville for yourself. Group tours available upon request. For further information, please contact the Museum at 303.665.9048.